How many of us have heard the old proverb “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy”?
James Howell is credited with penning this proverb in 1659 and, he knew something then that is still relevant today.
Wikipedia states this proverb’s meaning is “without time off from work, a person becomes both bored and boring.”1 While this may have originally referred to shorter workdays for people to enjoy their personal time, a looser interpretation could easily speak to integrating non-work-related activities during the workday.
With the challenges employers face today to find and keep a talented workforce, it becomes even more important to create an encouraging and inspiring environment, where employees can express themselves and build personal connections by engaging in enjoyable activities.
Multiple studies and research provide evidence of the positive impact of these activities in the workplace and all lead to the same or similar conclusions:2
- It encourages creativity and promotes employee engagement.
- It builds loyalty, fosters teamwork, and develops personal connections between people.
- It creates a progressive culture leading to improved employee retention; and
- By promoting the culture within job openings, companies attract quality candidates who value these cultural characteristics in the workplace.
An article in People Development magazine, “Is Having Fun in the Workplace More Productive?” discusses a study by BrightHR that offers further support. This study reveals that “79% of graduates and those set to leave school felt that having fun at work was important, with 44% of those believing fun in the workplace increases work ethic”.3
Marcus Paint adopted this philosophy several years ago when “Having Fun” was incorporated into the company’s core values. We prioritize creating opportunities where employees can step away from their daily responsibilities to bond together during special activities.
We have seen a direct correlation between improved teamwork, communication, and the personal connections formed during these activities. Some examples include:
- Churchill Downs fall track day events, company cookouts, and lunches.
- Monthly birthday recognitions.
- Annual Mardi Gras pancake breakfast.
- Team activities such as cornhole, puzzles, or other games.
- Annual holiday parties where we also recognize and celebrate employee anniversaries.
We routinely conduct employee engagement surveys; and when employees are asked about “Having Fun,” they consistently rate its associated activities as important to them. During focus group sessions held in 2022, employees provided feedback on how this specific core value has led to developing comradery, showing concern for others, and creating a work atmosphere and energy they see as authentic of the company’s culture.
Every employer facing concerns to attract and retain employees must develop a plan to address the multiple areas that appeal to today’s workforce. Their plan should include the organization’s unique Employee Value Proposition (EVP). SHRM defines this “as part of an employer’s branding strategy that represents everything of value that the employer has to offer its employees”.4 EVP includes compensation, benefits, and career development but culture is as equally important to the employee engagement factor.
Incorporating “fun and games” as an integral part of your work culture will set the stage for your company to be an employer of choice. So hit the play button and get started!